PEOPLE ON STREETS - CRITICAL PHENOMENOLOGIES OF EMBODIED RESISTANCE
In the last decade, massive street protests have again come to the fore as a go-to mode of expressing political criticism. Not only in countries perceived as championing democratic civil society but also in regions historically influenced by different forms of political oppression, where reluctance to take political action or indifference towards politics in general is a societal norm, people are now raising their voices and taking to the streets to protest against both long overdue forms of injustice and current perils to civil and human rights posed by right populist governments around the globe.
Since the Arab Spring and the Gezi Park protests, it seems like one street revolutionary moment follows another. These protests have multiple causes; they differ as to their political aims, forms of expression, and degree of success. Movements like Black Lives Matter, #RhodesMustFall, the climate protests of Fridays for Future, SlutWalks, protests demanding access to legal abortion in Argentina and Poland, the anti-government street protests in Hong Kong, Israel and Peru, or the pro-opposition protests in Russia are only some examples of how mass protests appearing in public space. These protests, despite their predominantly non-violent character, are often countered with violence, on the part of either the police forces or brutal counterdemonstrations. And, although different in political aims and forms of expression, they share phenomenal features as public assemblies of embodied political subjects acting in their plurality (Butler 2015), expressing one of the key features of (radical) democratic politics: dissent as an inalienable political right. Street protests are spontaneous action par excellence, a manifestation of disagreement with social norms or political decisions. In this way, they offer a stage for expressing civil disobedience, exposing existing social conflicts and antagonisms, and generating expression of civil disobedience and generation of power through concerted action (Arendt 1972). In the process of protesting, where the street becomes a space to create and show this power: it becomes protesters’ home (Gago 2021).